The 30-Day October Character Challenge!

Click to play!

Click to play!

The ‪#‎CharacterChallenge‬ is over!! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who supported this project with your likes, comments, shares and messages. It was such a great experiment for me and I learned a TON. The biggest challenges by FAR were technical. Shooting on an iPhone, editing and uploading to three different platforms every day with insanely slow internet was at times more than my fragile little Italian temper could bear. Traveling with a 5-year-old laptop wound up being the only thing that caused me to miss a day (and yo, I spent like 8 hours that day trying to post a video). I subsequently made my most impulsive laptop purchase ever. I broke two raggedy tripods and many lightbulbs, but acquired much-improved mics, editing software, and half a closet full of wigs and costumes. I got better at shooting and editing but realized I have SO much to learn. I realized it’s great to have ultimate creative control (read: to make yourself look pretty sometimes), but it'd probably be even more fun to work with people who know what they’re doing. ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE? Hit me up.

On the creative side, it's been incredibly liberating to be forced to let go of the outcome of these videos every single day. If you thought these were funny, YAY!! My inner critic finds fault with plenty of them, but it's been fun to just let that all go and put it all out there. 

Here are all of them in one YouTube playlist, including an addition for the day I missed. If you want to subscribe to my channel or share the videos, this is the place to do it! 

And YES, going forward, I'm going to continue posting a video once a week!! Tuesdays. But this week will be a much-needed vacay ;) THANKS AGAIN EVERYONE!

The Move Is REAL - Hollywood Baby!

Three. This is the number of months it apparently takes me to pack up my entire life, say goodbye to my favorite survival job, move out of my apartment in DC, move into my dad's, mourn the loss of a dear uncle, celebrate the holidays with the extended family, go on vacation with the nuclear family, drive cross country with the boo, settle temporarily with great friends in Santa Monica, search for an apartment in central Los Angeles, find an apartment in central Los Angeles, move in, and finally begin living, three thousand miles west of anywhere I've ever known. 

Zero. This is how many acting projects I am capable of squeezing in during such a series of events. I was able to make a short video for a contest, however. And I really do mean short. Studio 360 announced a contest for a "30-Second Rom Com," to be judged by director Kevin Smith. The contest was canceled, to my chagrin, but I was at least able to turn my family cruise into a fun little project

Six, plus! This is the version of phone I used to take this selfie before my very first Hollywood audition. I was going for teacherly. 

The number premise has now run its course, but here is a picture of my rooftop, because you should come visit. 

Finally, here is a video I just saw for the first time from last November, before my moving-induced mini-retirement. Speaking of retirement... 

 

More to come from the other side!

All the World's A Stage

I headed to Philly this weekend to tell my Edwin story with Story League Sings at Underground Arts, as a part of the First Person Arts festival. 

Taking a road trip to do a live performance was an awesome rush. The moment we walked up as a motley pack of performers to the doors of the space, leading underground to a dingy, character-filled space with a meandering green room, I remembered how much I love the sheer terror and uncertainty of the hours leading up to a live show. 

The crowd was such a warm and generous one the last time I performed this story that it was hard to match. This was an older crowd and I cut a lot of the fat from my story in the interests of time, and I felt perhaps it lost something. But we are our own worst critic!

Sunday I helped throw this amazing party in collaboration with two wonderful friends, in order to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a success, and I even got the chance to lead the crowd in singing 99 Red Balloons by Nena at the end. I filled 99 red balloons with helium, too, for the enjoyment of the partygoers... which was way more of a huge job than I had realized setting out...! We are hoping to expand our historical party events into a business. Stay tuned! 

Friday evening, my generous bf treated me to a performance of As You Like It at the Shakespeare Theatre, directed by Michael Artenborough, son of actor Richard. I absolutely loved the set design-- golden, brown, velvety, green, but sparse and modern. The textures, patterns and colors of a forest (Arden, peut-être), but geometric and planar, leveled and restrained. Oddly enough, the Washingto Post's review hinges on a critique of what they found to be a drab set, but I disagree. The performances were straightforward and strong, the adaptation one that managed to remain faithful to the text in thoroughly accessible delivery. Costumes were very interesting, the men looking like Chicago mob bosses and the women in something like pared down antebellum gowns. The ensemble was a pleasantly atemporal sylvan romp, with particularly memorable wrestling match, and delivery by Derek Smith of Jacques' timeless monologue, here reprinted for your reading pleasure. 

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances; 
And one man in his time plays many parts, 
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail 
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, 
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, 
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, 
Seeking the bubble reputation 
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin'd, 
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,  
Full of wise saws and modern instances; 
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts 
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, 
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, 
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,  
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes 
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, 
That ends this strange eventful history, 
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,  
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

 

A Foray in Voice-Over

 

Last night I got a call from one of my favorite new professional associates, photographer and creator of all manner of media, Jonathan Thorpe. The great thing about Jonathan is that he's taken a chance and asked me to do some things I didn't necessarily have experience in, like voice-over work. I absolutely love it when people extend that kind of confidence. It incites me to live up to the challenge. This kind of creative risk-taking strikes me as being great for business.

Thanks to my indie rocker bf, I only have to go as far as my bedroom to access a pretty sweet home recording situation. So when Jonathan asked if I could turn around a voice-over in a few hours, I said avec plaisir. Or, in this case, ja gerne... The client is Volkswagen! 

As I'm still fairly new at this whole VO thing, it took me several hours of experimentation to really get a track that I liked. In the end, I felt most comfortable adapting a certain character voice as opposed to striving for a "pretty" version of my own voice. 

Today's career moves: Self-submitting to a number of casting calls online, and going a little bit old school with a cold mailing. I'm compiling a massive personal list of casting agencies and theaters who accept cold submissions. I've got 200 headshots and 50 postcards to mail out. I realized with a start the other day that the perfect and horrible thing about ordering a million headshots is that you have to act fast. My looks are always changing, and so are the types of roles I'm going for. Pretty soon, I'll want a fresher, more specific headshot. So it's fantastic incentive. Use 'em or lose 'em! 

 

Education

Acting In A Professional Production - Curtain!

This past Thursday I wrapped up my latest acting class, Acting in a Professional Production, taught by Deb Gottesman at the Theatrelab in downtown D.C.

I signed up for the class for two main reasons. First, it centered around four staged readings of George S. Kaufman plays. I have been in a George S. Kaufman play, You Can't Take It With You, in which I played Alice Sycamore, and I remember it very fondly. Secondly, the class was audition-only and seemed very focused on preparing actors for professional theater. One of my goals before leaving D.C. has been to act with one of the professional companies in town, so this lined up well. 

After what I thought was a horrible audition (I was LATE, which happens to me a lot in real life but almost never in acting life), I made the cut, much to my surprise. We wasted no time preparing for our first staged reading, Once In A Lifetime, only a week out. Deb gave us some quick and dirty reminders of what it is to act in comedy. What kind of comedy is it—a comedy of situation, of character, or of manners? Who are you in the comedy, are you the character? Are you the agent of the comedy? Or are you the straight man, the reactive one? Do you have an innocence of focus—is this funny to you as the character? And of course, she reminded us of essential elements: clarity, precision, commitment, pace. 

We worked with four different guest directors—Bill Largess (Artistic Director, Washington Stage Guild) Shirley Serotsky (Theater J), Chris Henley (Actor/Director, and former Artistic Director of WSC/Avant Bard), Laura Gianarelli (Actor/Director, Company Member, Washington Stage Guild)—and four guest actors—Joshua Dick, Jim Zidar, Susan Rhea and Tonya Beckman

We met for about twelve hour a week, each week culminating with the staged reading, a strange but interesting medium. My first role was Florabel Leigh in Once in a Lifetime, which lent itself to  some really fun vocal comedic opportunities (think Singin' In The Rain, "Pierre you shouldn't have come!"). My most meaty role was definitely that of Paula Jordan in Dinner at Eight, a feckless, headstrong young woman who doesn't quite get what she wants. Apparently my most realized performance was that of Jean in Stage Door, the actress who leaves New York for LA in pursuit of a career on camera. I felt a strange sense of communion with that character... why ever, do you imagine... ? 

I'll certainly come back to some of the many important lessons I learned from Deb Gottesman. She was an inspiring teacher so brimming with wisdom that I could hardly write down her offhanded pearls quickly enough. Now, to find my next class...! 

Also, Policies.

On set yesterday for AARP as a jargon-tastic political candidate. Character inspirations include Jack Donaghy ("Deal mechanics. Revenue streams. Jargon. Synergy. That's the best presentation I've ever seen.") and Leslie Knope. A truly fun day with an awesome actor, Lee Ordeman, and the aweosmely talented actor/director Chris Keener. Great day!

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